John, a West Virginia native, completed his formal training in classical French cuisine as first in his class at L'Academie de Cuisine in Bethesda, Maryland. Before settling in North Carolina he worked with several well known chefs in the Washington DC area. Most notable were Jean Louis Palladin of the Watergate, and Jeffrey Bueben chef/owner of Vidalia and Bis. John’s relocation to Raleigh coincided with Rick Robinson's decision to open Mondo Bistro in Chapel Hill where John served as sous chef from the restaurant's inception until early 1995 when he left to open Bloomsbury Bistro.
Both John and the Bistro have become recognized locally and nationally for his innovative menus and the Bistro’s sophisticated, yet comfortable dining atmosphere. Publications such as USA Today, Bon Appétit and Southern Living have cast a flattering spotlight on Chef Toler's cooking style.